Seven Ways To Identify And Engage Brand Advocates

Feb 20 2014, 9:15am CST | by

By Tracy Foster, founder, ONA.
/>

For startups and small businesses, when it comes to allocating marketing dollars, value is the most important word. We all seek to gain maximum value and exposure with limited budgets. Cultivating brand advocates who are excited to share their experience with you can be a low-cost, high-return marketing strategy.

Essentially, a brand advocate is someone who enjoys your product or service so much that they’re eager to tell others about it — whether that’s via social media or in real life, on their blog or in a publication. Brand advocates can be online influencers with millions of social media followers, or people who are active or well-respected in their industry. Here are seven ways to turn a regular customer or industry influencer into an active, engaged advocate for your brand:

  1. Befriend industry influencers. Thanks to the conversational nature of social media and the explosion of blogs in every niche and industry, marketing is now a two-way street that can benefit both sides. Reach out to people who would benefit from your product or service: introduce yourself, see about treating them to a coffee (if you live in the same city) and try to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
  2. Trade product instead of advertising. Advertising is expensive, especially when it comes to print publications or high-traffic blogs. See if the writer or blogger would be interested in reviewing your product or potentially giving one away: the cost of the product (or even two!) is often much cheaper than direct advertising and it encourages a much higher level of engagement. Popular blogs are often open to creating a hybrid of traditional sidebar advertising and reviewing a product; try to couple product reviews with advertisements on the same site for maximum exposure.
  3. Send snail mail. No matter how much of our lives are lived online, people still love to receive mail other than bills. If you have access to a key influencer’s address, buy some pretty stamps and a nice set of stationery and send them a note about how much you appreciate what they’ve done for your brand. The thrill of receiving a tweet from a brand wears off quickly, but a thoughtfully handwritten note is likely to be remembered.
  4. Send an email. If you find that there are people who are regularly interacting with your brand on social media and always have something great to say, move the relationship beyond that platform. If you aren’t able to send a handwritten note, sending a quick email to let them know how much you appreciate their support will go a long way in building the relationship.
  5. Give them a discount. Even if you can’t justify sending a free product to an influencer (perhaps their social media reach isn’t large enough or they aren’t in quite the right niche) consider offering a modest discount.
  6. Feature them on your blog. A regularly-updated blog can be a fantastic way to not only share company news but also establish a brand personality, connect with industry influencers, and highlight emerging talents in your industry. At ONA, we realized that our customers were constantly creating great original content for us through photos they shared on Instagram, Facebook or their personal blogs. We moved beyond highlighting emerging photographers in our Photographer Profile series and started featuring ONA users from a variety of backgrounds (e.g., professional photographers, bloggers, photo enthusiasts, etc.) in different ways. People now regularly contact ONA for a chance to be featured on the blog. Not only does this associate ONA with incredible talent, it also shows potential customers how existing customers are using the product.
  7. Treat them to a coffee. One of the best ways to build long-term relationships is to get to know influencers beyond their blogs, publications or Instagram feeds. We regularly reach out to photographers and bloggers about meeting up over a coffee or a drink. Those conversations (that aren’t just brand-focused) often lead to creative collaborations. Keep an eye on Twitter and relevant blogs to know when out-of-town influencers will be coming through your city — and make plans!

Brand advocates can create some of the best value for a small business or emerging brand. The word-of-mouth marketing that results from their kind words can exponentially increase your company’s profile and positive associations. Keep them engaged as you grow and you’ll likely catch more brand advocates’ and influencers’ attention along the way.

Tracy Foster is the founder of ONA (pronounced ō’na), an emerging company that designs and sells fine camera bags and accessories for photographers. Tracy launched ONA in June 2010.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Chimpanzees plan their breakfast time
London, Oct 29 (IANS) Wild chimpanzees flexibly plan when and where they will have breakfast after weighing multiple factors, such as the time of day and the type of food to be eaten, research shows.
 
 
Virus scare grounds flight in New Zealand
Wellington, Oct 29 (IANS) An Air New Zealand flight was grounded Wednesday after it emerged that a group of passengers had been exposed to the Norovirus, which could cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain, a media report said.
 
 
India leads South Asia in 'doing business' easier: World Bank
Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) A new World Bank Group report finds that India set the pace for regulatory reform in South Asia in 2013/14 India with 20 - the region's largest reforms during the period.
 
 
China's yuan strengthens
Beijing, Oct 29 (IANS) The value of the Chinese currency renminbi, or the yuan, strengthened by 16 basis points to 6.1405 against the US dollar in its central parity Wednesday, authorities said.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

US unmanned spacecraft explodes shortly after launch
Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) An unmanned spaceship operated by a private US firm exploded just minutes after its launch Tuesday, media reported. The rocket blew up over the launch complex at Wallops Island, Virginia,...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
A$AP Rocky and Chanel Iman split
A$AP Rocky and Chanel Iman have reportedly ended their engagement. The 26-year-old rapper, who secretly proposed to the Victoria's Secret model in April after less than a year of dating, recently split from the 23-year-...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Australian troops conduct G20 security training
Sydney, Oct 29 (IANS) Australian special forces troops have conducted G20 training exercises involving a mock hostage recovery operation in Brisbane Tuesday. Australian Defence Force spokesman for the G20, Maj. Gen....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Nick Jonas angry over band split?
Los Angeles, Oct 29 (IANS) Pop star Nick Jonas is reportedly angry with his siblings over the breakup of their band - The Jonas Brothers. The trio disbanded in October last year after pulling out of a North American...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Chinese peacekeepers to help build Ebola quarantine center
United Nation, Oct. Oct 29 (IANS) The Chinese contingent of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) will help build an Ebola Quarantine and Control Center in the capital city of Monrovia, a UN spokesperson said here Tuesday...
Read more on Business Balla
 
IS captures three gas wells in Syria
Damascus, Oct 29 (IANS) The Islamic State(IS) militants Tuesday captured three gas wells in Syria's central province of Homs, media reported. The IS captured the gas wells east of Palmyra in Homs after intense clashes...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Martin's split wasn't dramatic
Jennifer Lawrence's split from Chris Martin reportedly ''wasn't dramatic.'' The 'Hunger Games' actress quietly decided to end her relationship with the Coldplay frontman a few weeks ago after four months of dating...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Eddie Redmayne just wants to pay his mortgage
Eddie Redmayne says he is just trying to pay his mortgage. The 'Les Miserables' actor, who is set to marry antiques dealer Hannah Bagshawe in December, claims he doesn't consider himself ''a movie star'' and doesn't...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Jane Lynch finalizes divorce
Jane Lynch's ex-wife Dr. Lara Embry received millions in their divorce. The 'Glee' star, whose split from clinical psychologist was finalized on Monday (10.27.14), following their separation in February 2012, reportedly...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
David McIntosh keen to marry Kelly Brook
London, Oct 29 (IANS) Following their recent reconciliation, actor David McIntosh says he wants to marry his on-off girlfriend Kelly Brook. The 28-year-old star is eager to wed the model in Mykonos, Greece, reports...
Read more on Celebrity Balla